Last year, AR content creation platform Zappar held AR Pioneers – a two-day live streaming virtual conference. At the time, we thought it was a one-time thing to celebrate their ten-year anniversary. But, surprise! AR Pioneers is returning and ARPost is a media partner. We talked with Zappar’s Head of Marketing David Mather to learn more.
AR Pioneers 2022
Once again, AR Pioneers is a two-day event, this time taking place on November 8 and 9. Zappar was happy with the turnout for the event, which they hope educates current AR developers and inspires those that aren’t yet creating.
“For us, it’s really tied to our mission about democratization and bringing the tech to the people,” said Mather. “It should be a really well-rounded event for everyone with an interest in AR to people that are already building.”
Last year’s event focused on product announcements and updates. This year will see much of the same, including Zapbox updates and news about the Zapvision solution that co-founder and CTO, Connell Gauld, discussed in a talk at AWE this spring. Mather also mentioned a new creator tool that he “can’t tell much about” but deals with cloud computing and computer vision.
However, this year’s AR Pioneers event will also feature more outside perspectives. Guest speakers include Accenture’s Global Consumer Metaverse Technology Lead Fadi Chehimi, futurist, metaverse consultant, and Forbes columnist Charlie Fink, and representatives from Unilever, Nestlé, H&M, and others. The event will also include more developer workshops.
“This time we’re putting on some more workshops. We learned last year that people really wanted to get their hands on more,” said Mather. Workshops include sessions on creating viral content, and creating solutions for learning and development.
Tracks and Sessions
This year, there’s so much content targeted at so many people that AR Pioneers sessions are filtered into tracks. There are five tracks: Headliners, AR Strategists, AR Creators, AR Wisdom Seekers, and AR Workshops.
The “Headliners” track is essentially a series of AR Pioneers keynotes. This track includes a welcome address for each day of the conference, as well as the major announcements from Zappar’s C-suite including Zapbox, the Zapvision partnerships between Zappar and Unilever, and the creator tool that Mather so alluded to.
Zapbox is “the world’s most affordable mixed reality headset.” The mobile adapter was commercially launched at last year’s event. It was actually a finalist for the Best Head-Worn Device Auggie.” You’ll have to watch the session (or read our coverage) to learn how it’s grown since then, but Mather gave some hints on a smaller form factor and “active controllers.”
Speaking of Auggies, we genuinely don’t know much about this “next generation of AR creative tooling,” but it’ll be worth seeing. While the Best Head-Worn Device Auggie went to the Varjo Aero, Zappar did win two Auggies this spring – both for ZapWorks. The ZapWorks WebAR platform won Best Creator Tool, and the ZapWorks AR SDKs won Best Developer Tool.
Zapvision was also announced during AWE. Gauld presented the fledgling solution with one Auggie on either side of the podium. Zapvision started as a development fluke – zapcodes were readable from so far away that they made target-based AR applications challenging. So, Zappar decided to use the codes to store product information in an accessibility-supporting application.
“Packaging represents this huge source of visually identifiable information that we all take for granted but it is partially or entirely inaccessible for people who are blind or partially sighted,” Gauld said during his talk. At the time, Zapvision was being tested in small partnerships but is now ready for a much bigger deployment.
The AR Strategists track includes seven sessions across both days. These feature tips from the Zappar team, as well as use cases and experiences from companies working with Zappar products including Accenture, H&M, Nestlé, and others.
A potential highlight in this track: the panel discussion “Quick, Get Me in the Metaverse! The Reality of the Latest Virtual Trend.” The talk brings together Fink, Chehimi, Sponge Immersive Creative Director and Producer Kate Pasterfield, and Zappar COO Max Dawes “casting aside the what ifs and maybes” to “talk about the here and now of the metaverse.”
The AR Creators track is eight presentations and talks spread across two days. Sessions include use cases as well as software and service updates. One session also discusses how to “Build Your Own Digital Avatar With ZapWorks and Unity.”
The second day in this track includes two packed panel discussions: “The AR Industry, An Agency Perspective” and “Feeling Good, Looking Good: The importance of UX and UI Design in AR.”
AR Wisdom Seekers and AR Workshops
This track is a series of seven largely introductory talks that deal with using Zappar tools and services. It’s not only Zappar, however. The track includes sessions on using Zappar with outside frameworks and engines including Three.js, and A-Frame.
There are also three AR workshops – interactive tutorials on prototyping and building AR experiences with Zappar tools. Interestingly, some of these workshops are led by industry users rather than by Zappar team members.
Register for AR Pioneers 2022
Even though AR Pioneers is a virtual conference, seating is limited! There are only 2,000 tickets available to witness the event live with comments and networking and it’s not too late to register.
Need a refresher? Full recordings of last year’s event are preserved on Zappar’s YouTube channel, and our coverage of last year’s event is linked above.